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Around The House – Step Inside!

January 28, 2011 by admin

Welcome to our home!

The first time Sara and I stepped into our house we were both so excited.  We’d been hoping we would find a home that was older and full of charm and character and this one certainly fit the bill!  It had lots of wood moulding, nicely proportioned rooms, and gorgeous old windows.  There was a lot of untouched woodwork that made the house feel pretty old fashioned and a little heavy, but we could see past that.

Here’s a sneak peek into the living room – the first room you see when you enter our home.  These are ‘before’ pictures taken a while ago now.  Lots has changed since then, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

The living room seemed quite large to me and I was already envisioning furniture arrangements.  I loved the fireplace with it’s symmetrical built-in cabinets on each side.  The mantle runs the entire width of the room and I thought it would make for some interesting and unique display opportunities.  The humble fire screen came with the house, which was good because I loved it.  It’s a lot like the one used in the 2010 Princess Margaret lottery housed designed by House & Home.

There was a large bay window along the front of the living room, made up of five individual windows.  They are the classic casement style windows with substantial wooden mullions that I love.  I was not in love with the finish on the woodwork, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to get rid of it entirely.  Also, I wasn’t sure about the scalloped wooden valance in the bay window, probably dating from the 1950’s.  But look at all of that light!

Here you can see that the doorway at the north end of the room has an actual wooden door attached.  It’s a thoughtful, old-timey touch that Sara and I really appreciate.  In fact by the time we were done with the room you could close several doors and completely contain the living room from the rest of the house.  Of course my mom thought this was great for kids down the road…WAY down the road!  We thought about keeping the doors in the house in their natural wood finish and painting the trim around them.  This is something you see in lots of stately old houses actually.

The floors in the house were in pretty good shape and hadn’t been covered up with wall-to-wall carpet, so that was a bonus!  I’ve pulled up carpet and millions of staples twice before and I’m so glad I didn’t have to do it here!  Joanna, our real estate agent pointed out the squeeks in the floor but we assured her we didn’t mind (and secretly even liked it).  I also liked the big old vents and this little wall, we thought might be a good spot for the piano we hoped to bring home.  It was the piano my mom had as a child (she’s an accomplished pianist and piano teacher ) and it was the same one I learned on.

And that’s the grand tour of the living room before.  We were so happy to imagine our future here and all of the things we could do with the room.


So whaddaya think?


  1. Looks like TONNES of potential!!! Can’t wait to see the after!

  2. Wow. I love those built-ins surrounding the fireplace. I can only imagine how beautiful this room is now that you’ve put your spin on it. I can’t wait to see AFTER photos.

  3. Lisa says:

    Oh, I’ve been waiting for this! I love it, so much character! Our house has a similar issue with a lot of exposed wood, so I can’t wait to see what you did with it. Congratulations on your beautiful home!

  4. Wow! Gorgeous! I really love the fireplace with the cabinets… so much potential there and the windows are fantastic. I’m dying to see what you’ve done with the place. I know it’ll be gorgeous!

    • Windows are one of those make-or-break situations with me. So many old houses had their windows replaced with big plate glass ones and I was so SO happy to have these. You can add all the moulding you want to a plain space, but good windows are a lot harder to come by. Score one for me!


  5. Yippee! Your house seems so bright & lovely…can’t wait to see your magic at work!

  6. Marsha Sefcik Interiors says:

    Michael, I love old houses and yours is beautiful. Can’t wait to see what you did with the living room. You definitely had great bones to work with. My house is 140 years old and unfortunately went through some terrible renos in the 1970-80’s. But, we are nearly there with the renos. Enjoy! It is a labor of love isn’t it?

  7. Mary says:

    Hi Michael,
    Love the living room. Will there be more BEFORE’s of other rooms before we get to see the AFTER’s?

  8. sarah says:

    I am especially fascinated by your house as we live in a very similar-looking neighborhood and our house is from (I imagine) the same era and from what I’ve seen so far, similarly laid-out to yours–with the entrance on the side and a massive bay window in the center, stairs going up beyond the doorway from the living room, etc. I’ve been wanting to send you pics of my living room for your “Ask Your Friendly Neighborhood Decorator” feature. I can’t wait to see what you’ve done with yours! Ironically, our woodwork had all been painted white before we bought the house and I was actually disappointed with that–I know painting is the consensus but I am personally a sucker for the period feel. :) Anyway, we’ve been in our house for a year and most of my re-dos are still just in the dreaming phase, so I am eager to learn more about your process!

    • I have a relative who had a house that was really similar too – I think it’s a pretty classic layout, and one that I think really works. I know what you mean about the warmth of wood. It’s nice if you can think of a way to work it in to your scheme. Hope you get lots of ideas here!


  9. linda rieckmann says:

    Beautiful house Michael! I have been following you on House & Home and enjoy your work so much. Your blog is already one of my favorites. Like your other comments have stated, I am also very anxious to see the “after” photos. Are you going to make us wait until Monday???? Don’t know if I can hang on until then! I’m looking forward to it, that’s for sure!

    • Thanks Linda! You’re just going to have to wait, cause the afters are a ways off! But there’s part of me that loves the romance of the befores even more more than the afters! When the house is empty and full of potential and full of the past life it lived. I can’t wait to share the finished rooms, but it’s going to take some time.

      Thanks for following my work Linda!


  10. Sara Penney says:

    Oh man I love these before shots. I love our house now, but I definitely miss all the potential and ‘magic’ of the before stage! Something so romantic and dreamy about it! Basically I just completely agree with your last comment. Sigh…..

  11. Morgan says:

    It’s absolutely beautiful! I can’t wait to see how it all comes together, especially the way you decorate that glorious mantle!

  12. Michael,
    The LR is truly grand!!! Can’t wait to see the after pics!!

  13. The living room is gorgeous! I love the fireplace, the built-ins, and the windows. The wood floors and trim look exactly like the ones in our first house. We were so busy the few years we lived there that we didn’t change a thing, but I could see the potential. Can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to!

  14. Piper says:

    This post completely made my day! I love that feeling of pure, unfiltered “possibility” you get when you look upon your very first home and think about all of things you want to do to it. Can’t wait to see all of your work come together. Please keep the posts coming :)
    P.S- Sara’s comment on this post made it obvious that you two are soulmates. So cute.
    P.S.S- please get a twitter account

    • Thanks Piper – and when I read your soulmate comment to Sara she said (over her shoulder while watching 30 Rock), “Um yaa-aaa….!” We’re pretty happy with our two-peas-in-a-pod-ness. It’s pretty great.

      Okay twitter – I know, I know I should but even having a blog at all is like the most shocking thing to most of my friends and families. I barely touched the computer outside of work until I started this thing up. And besides, what would I tweet about?! I don’t quite get this whole thing…


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